Jamaica's West Coast Oasis: Negril - Stays, Experiences & Eats
All roads lead to Negril. I'm so grateful to have visited this oasis before the end of 2020 and I'm already stoked for my next trip to the West Coast.
We've finally entered the New Year. A year of new lessons, opportunities and experiences! As I look back on the past year and reflect on the moments that I'm grateful for through all the chaos, I hold my most recent staycation close to my heart.
It only felt right to complete the year of staycations and (safe) island-trotting in Negril, the capital of casual. Usually a tourist town, Negril transformed into a local hub over the summer, thanks to incredible discounted stays and the desire for a change of scenery. The West was the only coast that I hadn't visited for the year and I felt like I needed to connect more with this iconic beach town before 2020 came to a close.
As a Kingstonian, Negril has always seemed distant; not only physically- being four hours away- but also in terms of familiarity. If I had to count on one hand how many times I'd visited Negril, I'd still have a few fingers left. As one of Jamaica's most popular and well-known spots, this felt wrong and my goal this trip was to fix this.
Overall, this staycation was an amazing way to round off the year and relax all while keeping my promise to continuously explore and be a tourist in my own country. I look forward to returning to this West Coast oasis in the new year and can't wait to enjoy more that Negril has to offer.
It's safe to say that my taste of Negril was sweet and I'll be back for more. I hope that this post, and my insight as a local, is able to help you when planning your next trip. Enjoy and, as always, feel free to comment any recommendations for my next trip!
S T A Y S
Sometimes trips are planned around attractions, people or food. This trip was undoubtedly planned around Skylark Negril. This boutique hotel located on Negril's iconic Seven Mile Beach was high in the ranks on my 2020 bucket list and I'm so glad to have finally crossed it off. Not only have I been dreaming of visiting, but I couldn't pass up their incredible specials- including their 50% off local rate!
Skylark is the sister property to the infamous cliffside Rockhouse Hotel and the perfect location if you're looking for a beachside stay in Negril. The hotel is very central to restaurants, attractions and is only about a 10 minute drive from the town's cliffside. I really enjoyed staying at Skylark and loved returning to it to wind down after a day of galavanting and exploring!
The property itself is gorgeous. I loved their infusion of Jamaican culture and design with minimalism. From vintage Jamaican travel and music posters adorning their walls to lush tropical greenery, feeling relaxed and stress-free came naturally. I felt at home. The guest rooms themselves are no exception to this calming atmosphere and inviting aura that exudes from the hotel's property.
I stayed in a stunning 'Patio Studio'; a pastel-coloured dream complete with a cozy king-sized bed, garden patio views & a Pinterest-worthy bathroom. Some of the room's amenities included a daybed, mini-fridge, desk and massive closet (10/10!!). Plus, the room was less than a minute's walk from the beach and Miss Lily's- their restaurant on property. One of the highlights of this room was being able to work remotely from the patio, soaking in the five second greetings and human interactions from random passersby.
Overall, I think it's safe to say that Skylark didn’t disappoint and definitely lived up to my expectations. I look forward to staying at this haven on my future trips to Negril.
COVID-19 Note: The hotel was very accommodating and compliant with COVID-19 protocols. They required masks when walking around the property and even sanitized & sealed all rooms before entry. As someone who was a bit cautious about visiting Negril (since I'd potentially encounter foreign visitors), I felt very secure and comforted by the hotel's measures.
One of the perks of staying at Skylark Hotel was having access to their sister hotel Rockhouse Hotel. While we didn't necessarily stay at Rockhouse, spending the day there was a great glimpse of the cliffside experience and had me hooked for my next trip. Just a 10 minute drive from Skylark, we spent the day tanning by their infinity pool, devoured a delicious lunch admiring the vibrant blue sea and explored hidden caves located around the property.
Our day trip to Rockhouse was potentially one of my favourites of the trip. It was great to explore the cliffside and get a taste of Negril's different personalities. Having only stayed at hotels on the beachside, I'm definitely looking forward to visiting Rockhouse in the future and staying in one of their cozy cottages nestled in the lush gardens overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Undoubtedly, Negril has an array of amazing options for your next stay. While I stayed at Skylark, many other hotels and villas in the area caught my eye. I've heard amazing reviews from other stays, including Country Country, Idle a While, Azul, The Cliff and more!
E A T S
Miss Lily's is the full-a-vibez restaurant on property at Skylark and was my go-to for many meals on this trip. Having visited their infamous New York location back in 2017, I had high expectations for this spot- and they were definitely fulfilled. The atmosphere of Miss Lily's was refreshingly authentic; from the food to the music, decor and staff. My favourite meals from the restaurant included their Jerk Fries (a must-have), Fire Roasted Pepper Quesadilla and the Jerk Chicken Pasta with Coconut Cream & Parmesan.
Not only was the food incredible but the service was extraordinary. Our waiter on our first visit, Orlando, was super friendly and accommodating and definitely helped us to start the trip off on the right foot. Whether stopping by for a drink at the beach or dining in, Miss Lily's was the heart and soul of Skylark and definitely was a contributing factor as to why the stay was so perfect.
On our day trip to Rockhouse, we were so excited to explore their dining options. We had heard so many amazing things about Pushcart, one of their cliffside restaurants, but unfortunately they open only on Fridays through Sundays. Undoubtedly, there's always next time but I'm thankful that this led us to their namesake restaurant on property.
Rockhouse Restaurant is one of the hotel's restaurants that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. We visited for lunch and ate at a secluded table across from the restaurant overlooking the electric blue cove. The food and service were equal parts incredible- big up to our waitress, Samantha!- and I can't wait to visit again.
Our table shared a mouth-watering Ackee Dip & Plantain Chips, which I wish I could've taken back with me to Kingston. For my main, I ordered their signature Rockhouse Burger. As I mentioned, our day spent at Rockhouse was potentially one of my favourites of the trip and the food and the restaurant's atmosphere definitely played a large role.
KENNY'S ITALIAN CAFE
When I asked friends for food recommendations in Negril, one name prevailed; 'Kenny's'. This Italian restaurant located on the strip, Norman Manley Boulevard, is a dream for any lover of pizza and pasta like myself. Although I loved the food, the ambiance of the restaurant is what really sold me. The vibes were immaculate; from the magical twinkle lights to the bohemian rattan chandeliers and hypnotizing music.
Their menu had a variety of options, from traditional pizzas and pastas, to salads, seafood options and more! I went for one of my go-to's, a Margherita Pizza- which never disappoints- while the rest of the table had the Grilled Lobster and Grilled Salmon. Next time, I'll definitely have to save some space for their delicious dessert options that caught my eye, including the Marina Pizza Dough with Nutella.
CHILL POPS JAMAICA
Chill Pops is a new spot on the strip that has all the buzz. This IG-worthy kiosk is located in the Boardwalk Shopping Village (across the road from Country Country) and invites you to 'taste the island'.
They offer a selection of 100% natural and hand-crafted gourmet popsicles for any palate- from 'Mango Passionfruit' to 'Cookies & Cream' and even 'Rum Punch'.
This was my final stop in Negril before heading back into town and I wished that I could've stayed longer and tried out every flavour! Fingers crossed that they'll expand islandwide and hopefully open a location in Kingston soon.
Patsy's is a quaint coffee shop on Negril's West End that is the perfect chill spot to wind down after a day of exploring. While I'll admit that their Instagram pictures led me here, it's the energy and vibe that really captured me. This roadside shop offers a selection of breakfast & lunch options, refreshments and desserts- including delicious locally-made ice cream. It's the perfect spot to enjoy good company and relax to the sound of the waves peacefully hitting the shore.
I think that Patsy's is one of the most underrated spots that I visited during my trip to the West Coast. There are so many roadside bars, shops and hidden gems in Jamaica that hold so much culture, history and life that many of us just pass on a daily basis. Personally, I cherish my visit to Patsy's as it serves as a reminder to take it slow and to enjoy the little things along the journey.
E X P E R I E N C E S
SEVEN MILE BEACH
Is it really a trip to Negril without a visit to the iconic Seven Mile Beach? This majestic white sand beach is one of the most well-known spots in Jamaica for a reason. From its soft sand to still waters and unbeatable sunsets, this beach is potentially one of my favourites on the entire island. There's no better feeling than basking in the Negril sun- which, trust me, hits differently- and taking a peaceful swim in the flat sea to cool off afterwards.
Having access to the beach from Skylark was so convenient. Not only did the hotel provide us with beach tents (for when di sun too hot), lounge chairs and towels, but we were able to order food and drinks right onto the beach!
It's safe to say that other beach days are unparalleled. Seven Mile Beach is full of personality and with tons of passersby, from vendors to tourists, you're bound to strike up a conversation. I'd definitely recommend heading out to the beach earlier in the morning before the sun reaches its scorching peak, then going off for any afternoon activities and returning for its colourful sunset.
Another one of Jamaica's most infamous and must-see tourist attractions is Rick's Cafe. It's a spot that still takes your breath away no matter how many times you've visited!
It has always held a special place in my heart having had an unforgettable time full of lively entertainment and memories of a lifetime when I visited back in 2017 with friends.
Rick's is an iconic spot to watch the sunset slowly fall over the horizon or to enjoy a couple drinks with friends. With no entrance fee or charge to jump off the cliffs, Rick's Cafe is the ultimate chill spot.
Trust me, it won't be long until I'm back on the West Coast. I’m actually already planning my next trip! Negril was a dream and there's still so much more to discover and experience even as a Jamaican.
Enjoyed this blog post? Make sure to check out my Negril vlog below for some behind the scenes moments and stunning clips of the spots mentioned...make sure to show it some love!